Major Events with George Washington
- 1789 - Judiciary Acts
The Constitution established the right for a Supreme Court and gave the Congress the power to establish "inferior courts." The Judiciary Act created the Supreme Court of six Justices: five Associate Justices and one Chief Justice. The first Chief Justice was John Jay.
The Act also established thirteen district courts (one for each state) and three Circuit Courts. In addition it created the office of Attorney General. Overall, this set of Acts set forth procedures, most of which are still in use today. It was amended after the Marbury vs. Madison case declared parts of this act unconstitutional in 1803.
- 1789 - Tariff of 1789
While looking for sources of revenue, Hamilton advocated a revenue tariff. It was passed on the fourth of July in 1789, and created duties on about 90 items that ranged from five to ten percent. Although the tariff was established as purely a revenue tariff, it led to the creation of the protective tariff in 1816.
- 1794 - Whiskey Rebellion
The western areas of Pennsylvania and North Carolina were farmlands that produced corn. Since the bulky loads of corn could not be transported to eastern markets, corn was converted to whisky and transported as barrels of whiskey. Also, whiskey became more expensive as it aged, so it was to the farmer's advantage not to sell the newly made whiskey. An excise tax on whiskey was created after Alexander Hamilton's recommendation. To the farmers the tax was an income tax and they rose against it. Throughout the west tax officials were tarred and feathered. Armed bands formed to resist the tax.
The Federal government did not stand aside, an army of fifteen thousand men was created, and they were ceremonially led by George Washington for the first mile. When they arrived to Pennsylvania, the farmers put down their weapons, realizing that they could not defeat this massive force. The put down of the Whiskey Rebellion was the first victory for the Federal Government.
- 1791 - First Bank of the United States
As part of his economic reform, Hamilton wished to establish a bank of the United States. Even though supported by George Washington, the issue sparked a huge debate in Congress. The constitutionality of the bank was in question. The elastic clause of the Constitution gave Congress the right to make all laws "which shall be necessary and proper. . . ." The Hamiltonians, supporters of the bank, favored loose interpretation of the elastic clause. They interpreted necessary as convenient and helpful to the nation. The Jeffersonians, on the other hand, supported the strict interpretation. In their minds necessary meant absolutely necessary. The debate over the bank gave rise to political parties. The pro-bank wing became the Federalists, while the opposition became the Democratic Republicans.
The bank finally passed after the following argument by Hamilton: "If the end be clearly comprehended within any of the specific powers, and if the measure have an obvious relation to that end, and is not forbidden by any particular provision of the Constitution, it may safely be deemed to come within the compass of the national authority." Since the bank was needed to collect taxes, and borrow money to pay the public debt, it was constitutional.
The following provisions were expressed: the bank would be privately owned (80% of stock was owned by private individuals, 20% by the United States); the bank could issue paper money as long as it was redeemable in gold; taxes could be paid to the bank; short term loans and the sale of bonds could be handled by the bank.
Overall, the bank aided the department of Treasury. It had a stabilizing effect on the economy.
- 1795 - Jay Treaty
In 1793, Great Britain made it clear that they would not leave the trade and military ports on he Great Lakes until the United States paid its debt. In November, they also began a campaign against foreign shipping in the Indies. Any foreign ship that was caught had its cargo confiscated and the crew was impressed into the British Navy. The enforcement of the law was such that any American ship could be stopped and seized in the Indies. As this was a serious blow to trade and commerce, Washington sent John Jay to negotiate a peace settlement.
The treaty was signed in 1795 with the following conditions: the British would get out of Northwest trading and military posts and in return American ships displacing less than 70 tons of water could trade with the Indies, but their cargoes could not include cotton, molasses, or sugar.
The treaty was very unpopular with the people, but Washington approved it and it was ratified by one vote in the Senate. The treaty delayed the Anglo-American war for twenty years.
- 1795 - Pinckney Treaty
The Spanish Louisiana was a barrier to trade because American ships could not navigate on the Mississippi nor could goods be deposited at New Orleans. Pinckney was sent by Washington to negotiate a settlement.
The treaty was very successful. The United States attained the right of deposit at New Orleans, free navigation of the Mississippi, and the 30th parallel was accepted as the Southern border.
- 1796 - Washington's Farewell Address
On September 17, 1796, Washington stated that he would not run for a third term. The address was printed in the American Daily Advertiser. He warned the nation and the people of the evils of the world. His two main points were on the formation of political parties, and permanent military alliances.
On foreign relations, Washington advice was neutrality: "The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."
During his presidency Washington witnessed the rise of political parties. He told the nation about their dangers in his farewell address, "I have already intimidated you the danger of parties in the State with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me . . . warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally. . . . It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another; foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passion."